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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Dec 29, 2009 6:54am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

The thing that always impressed me about the Capitol Theater runs was the Dead's willingness to go off script.

I had the honor of seeing all of their Fillmore East shows and all of the Capitol shows and the different gestalts underscore the amazing diversity of the band in 1970. The Fillmore East shows were bread and butter. Generally, they showcased the "new" tunes and peaked with either a Star or an Other One. No complaints, mind you--these sets were always magic.

But an hour "uptown" in the Westchester 'burbs, the band encountered the other half of the New York Dead scene. Not many people in Manhattan were aware of the Portchester mirror, so the audience was significantly different. For some reason, the band chose to give this half of the New York base something completely different. Perhaps they felt more comfortable here--less obligated to play to the expectations of the Fillmore East crowd with its coterie of music reporters and national networking. Perhaps they just felt that the Capitol radiated a different energy. Who knows?

You just don't see set lists like these from March and November. Even their last appearances in March 1971 are unique in that they chose that run (interesting that their first real east coast 6 night "run" was here) to premiere a dozen new songs and covers--more new material than at almost any other time.

As to the Pig material: post 1968/9 many of his best songs were played only a few times a year (Smokestack Lightning was held to twice a year). New covers such as It's a Man's World and Hard to Handle became more common for a time and the rave ups were limited to Lovelight. The last Midnight Hour--4-29-71--is rather kickass.

This post was modified by ghostofpig on 2009-12-29 14:54:32

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 28, 2009 7:28pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

I wonder what it was about the Capitol? From 3/21/70 through the rest of the year, the shows are exceptional - the Dead must have known they were doing special shows at Port Chester. (Of course, the Fillmore East shows are especially awesome as well, but as you mention, not as adventurous.)
I wish they'd done the December shows that were scheduled at the Capitol.... A lot of the vibe was gone by Feb '71, somewhere in-between the setlist overhaul & Mickey Hart slipping out & Dark Star going AWOL.

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Poster: deadpolitics Date: Jan 25, 2010 12:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

There must have been something special about that venue as they chose it for the dream experiment the band was involved in during the 2/71 run!

You don't just try that anywhere, right?

http://www.forteantimes.com/features/articles/169/the_grateful_deads_acid_test_for_esp.html

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Dec 28, 2009 7:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

I always thought the Dark Star>Wharf Rat>Beautiful Jam>Dark Star>MAMU to end the first set of 2-18-71 was pretty adventurous. Perhaps your right about the rest of the run which would point as much to adjusting to the loss of Mickey as the new material.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 29, 2009 1:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

My comment was a bit lazy - that is a nice Dark Star on the 18th - with the Wharf Rat in the middle it hints at new directions. And then they dropped it til April.
At the Fillmore East & Port Chester 4-night runs in late '70, they rotated setlists a bit, giving us 2 Stars in each run....but I'm not thinking of this song alone. The 6-night run in Feb '71 seems to have taxed their inventiveness as they played much the same songs almost every night. It's also notable that St Stephen was only played in that first 2/18 show, and Dancing in the Streets & Alligator/Caution were totally avoided.

To make a statistical comparison - at the November '70 Port Chester shows they played about 50 different songs in 4 shows - at the Fillmore East in Sep '70, about 45 songs in 4 shows - at El Monte in Dec '70, 35 songs in 3 shows - and in Feb '71, with all those new songs added, only about 40 songs in 6 shows! (And after that, 40 songs in 3 shows at the Manhattan Center run that April - and about 45 [non-Beach Boys] songs in 4 shows at the Fillmore East.)
Anyway, the point of all these dull numbers is just that, for all the new songs, their shows took a big drop in adventurousness in early '71....but then, we don't need a chart to know that....

Actually Marty Weinberg, who taped all these NY runs, had a few words on the Feb '71 shows:
"Those were pretty good shows, but they were not the same as the shows in November... I remember Jerry coming out the second night and saying, 'I don't think Mickey is going to be here tonight, it's pretty weird.'.... They were a lot less powerful as a band, it was something missing once he wasn't there.... That was a real turning point. Afterwards they were a lot tighter, but less frivolous...less experimental, less willing to go out there, to get out on a limb. They were much more repeatable after that for the shows I saw...they became much more night-for-night predictable."

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Dec 29, 2009 6:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

Not lazy at all and my nature is to use numbers and charts to prove a point so I appreciate the effort. I actually agreed with your initial comment but was just really trying to emphasize that the loss of Mickey might have been a bigger factor than was appreciated. I do think there is one other factor that hasn't been mentioned. The new songs that were introduced in the Feb run were not going to be released as a studio album and that these shows were essentially the rehearsals for what would ultimately become Skull and Roses. So it wasn't simply the nature of the new material but what was being planned for it that resulted in the more predictable sets. Seems like they repeated this approach in October '71 when not only did they add Keith but they introduced 6 or 7 new songs in one show. I haven't looked it up but I suspect that more new material was introduced in '71 than any other year. I guess at some level moving forward with such significant amounts of new material was also being adventurous on a different level.

It probably also allows someone like WT to define the outer limits of the era that he listens to although I still think that "his" era really ends in London in May '72. To me the next big change in the band was the loss of Pig and the jazzier direction the band started moving in the summer and fall of '72 exemplified by the approach to tunes like Bird Song.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Dec 29, 2009 10:09am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

Hey L--surprised you and the math tutor didn't chime in above (it was 12-29, right?), and yeah, I have often wondered "what's up?" with my era ending date (like all of you...well, some of you?...hmmm...one of you when forced to? Maybe none of you care when I start and stop?) and this seemed to be a rather specific event to signify a change in 71, and then add in Keith, drop out PP (recall he doesn't do much for me, so I am usu focusing on the others to start), and Donna, and by the end of 71 there really has been a change.

But, you are right, I can often listen to anything through Spring of 72, and the real clencher that YOU have it right is that I found the Winterland Boxed Set of Nov 73 to be a real disappointment (ie, by "then" something has changed for me).

For all of DanHealy's comments (you know, I kinda like the guy now...I really think it was either Rob or LiA trying to get me to refocus on musical posts...it sorta worked, huh? I still think MissD is the cutest poster around, and appreciate that your missus, indirectly, stepped forward to defend me) it is sort of bizarre that "we" (me anyhow) spend so much time discussing my limitations round here...

Hope the Holidays and publish or perish academy are treating you right, Larry.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Dec 29, 2009 2:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

Thank you Mr. Tell and here's to a happy and healthy new year to you and yours. Have fun with the new pup. We picked one up in September (aussie shep rescued from less than optimal living conditions, just ask his 90 relatives that were also looking for new homes) and while he requires a little more attention than we had grown accustomed to with our other dog, he is well worth it. He also seems to enjoy the early era as I was listening to a show from late '69 a few weeks ago and it seemed to keep him calm. Music soothes the savage beast or something like that.

As for the math tutor, you do recall correctly that my son's old algebra tutor did hear me listening to a show one night and started asking about 12-29-68. He actually had an original poster from the Miami Pop Festival in his house but had never heard the show. I burned him a copy as well as several other early era shows and he preferred 10-12-68 to TDIH. I tend to agree with him, although I did sample some of 12-29 during a dog walk today.

Publish or perish is treating me well these days. I really have no complaints. Heck I found out just today that I received a small grant from a private foundation. Unofficial so I can't comment much further but still a nice way to finish out the year.

Yes I am covering many topics. I am on the road still as we loaded up the family and one dog and headed back to the Philly/NJ area for the holidays. Internet time has been limited. Gotta a love a dog who can do an 800 mile one trip in a minivan with 3 kids and 2 adults and wag his tail the whole way.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Dec 29, 2009 6:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

A few notes about Feb 71 at the Capitol. First, they were recording for a new live l.p., and they were placing emphasis on the new songs. Thus, they played a good many of these songs over and over again in order to break them in and capture versions for Skullfuck. Of course, Jerry's decision to record his solo l.p. took four of these songs off the table, and a few others didn't mature for a while.
Still, take H to H as an example. Listen to the song as it develops between the beginning of the year until 4-29-71, when it peaks (regardless of 8-06). Clearly, they were improving on it nightly in an attempt to get it right! (Sadly, it was omitted from Skullfuck.) Nothing was used from Portchester as the various songs were being played better by the time of the Manhattan Theater/Fillmore East shows.

Still, they chose the Capitol to unveil six new songs. These were played for the most part nightly over the 6 day run. The shows tended to end with a NFA--GTDTRFB--(NFA or Lovelight) sequence which they wanted to end the l.p. with.

So, yes, winter spring 1971 gets very repetitive, but they were recording, just as they were in Feb--March 1969. Yes, they were probably thrown off their game by the loss of Mickey. But they managed to pull off some very nice hows.

As to Portchester and the magic: obviously the place gave off a certain vibe to the band. Up until Feb of 1971, you won't find a run of six shows anywhere. Portchster was kind of New York's secret sanctum--as compared with the international notoriety of the Fillmore East. Sure, the hardcore heads went to both places (easy transport via train or car), but the suburban vibe was different. Less pressure, less bullshit. The Capitol hosted many of rock's royal acts including Janis and Pink Floyd. In 1997, the Rolling Stones did a secret show there for MTV.

It was a great place, a theaer not unlike the Fillmore East or later the Academy of Music (the Palladium) and others. It had that great "hippie" ambience. Old but stately, wooden, smoke friendly, cheap. Every trip out there was worth it. Besides, I always crashed at the house of the finest cook in all of Westchester County!

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 29, 2009 12:26pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

Aha, ghost & elbow - I'd completely overlooked that the Dead were recording these shows in multitrack for the album. It definitely explains the setlist repetitiousness, and to some extent (knowing that the Dead would often "play safe" when recording) the lack of many November-type excursions & the dropping of several 1970 staples.
As it turned out, they were wise to go with April for the album! (Actually, it might have turned out even better if they'd waited longer & included August as well.) It is strange that they'd tape these breakout shows for consideration, knowing how much smoother the songs would get within a few months.

Like Marty, I get disappointed with these song-oriented shows, remembering how they'd been in November '70. Of course, numbers of songs alone are not that important - 1968/69 lovers can attest to the power of a repeated ten-song setlist! (Of course, most of those songs were 10-20 minutes....)
1971 did see more songs added than any other year. The other big breakout shows of the early years were 10/19/71 and 2/9/73 - and it's telling to see the differences. In October '71, the shows weren't that jam-oriented yet (esp with Pigpen out of the picture), but they still gave us four Dark Stars in the first three weeks of the tour, and the Other One was quickly turning into a monster with Keith - clearly new possibilities were opening up, and Europe '72 was the result. And in Feb '73, they didn't forsake the big jams at all, they just made the shows longer to fit in everything!

You mention how Hard to Handle improved - they'd been working at it since mid-'69! (To some extent, it replaced Easy Wind, which became a rarity - while Schoolgirl and Man's World disappeared.) To me, the big success story of early '71 is Good Lovin' - this song had seen some great jams in 1970, and late in the year Pigpen started adding raps to it, which spun it in a new direction. It's a highlight of many early '71 shows, and by April we get some really awesome versions....

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Dec 30, 2009 6:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

Indeedee. I think they ran tape at the Capitol to take no chances. The first time they started a live project in 1969, they lost the first gig(s) due to tape errors. Also, they would likely want to hear the new songs in 16 track glory to work on them.

H to H was introduced in 1969-with Jerry on pedal steel (yikes!) and sounded great by 2-14-70 (Bear's Choice). But--as with Easy Wind, which tended to ramble live, they gave Bobby a lead slot. That began in 1971. This needed to be worked on.

Between the Capitol shows and the Manhattan shows in April lies somewhat of a wasteland in terms of performance. The college gigs don't do much--neither tight nor jammy. But they got on a roll at the Manhattan Theater that they carried into the Fillmore East.

Odd thing about the Fillmore East shows--they don't showcase the new tunes. Instead, they spread them across the five nights without much repetition. In fact (I believe) the only song played each night was Hard to Handle. I think it's a great study to take listen to each night's version and hear it develop into the monster from 4-29 (this isn't a debate about 8-06). Each night becomes tighter and fiercer until it all congeals on the final night.

I feel that the lack of jamming is due to the lack of a keyboardist and the missing Mickey Hart's--as well as a desire to perform the new material. More the former than the latter. What was performed seems relatively formulaic--save for the Good Lovin' (sans rap) of 4-26 and its fully articulated counterpart Alligator jam on 4-29.


Still, I think that the Capitol was honored by having all those new tunes premiered there. Perhaps this is merely an accident--the shows postponed from 1970 were perhaps rescheduled for these dates. But for them to hold court for six nights with two fists full of new material--that's not something you toss away in Peoria.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 30, 2009 2:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Fillmore Setlists

Good points.
The March '71 shows seem in general, spotty or bland (with a couple exceptions) - by April they've put more pep in their step and there are a number of fine shows - not much exploration usually, but solid. At the Fillmore run, seems like they're able to pull out new surprises each night. (Later on, I think the 5/29, 7/2 and 7/31 shows get closer to the tight August '71 standard.)
I don't think the Fillmore shows are all quite so formulaic - all those guest appearances are unusual (if not always satisfying) - Dark Star>St Stephen was quite a rarity by then - the Good Lovin' from the 25th is my own favorite (might be a formula, but it's a winning one). Otherwise, yes, very song-oriented. And you're right, the new songs don't get special treatment.

I'm not sure about the lack of jamming being due to change of personnel....after all they'd done fine in 1970 with no keyboardist; and after Mickey left they continued with, for example, Good Lovin' and the Other One with those long drum solos. (They even did one Alligator!)

Just a note about the Fillmore East setlists...they played about 45 songs in all - four were repeated on each night (Sugar Magnolia of course, Hard to Handle, Playing, and Loser).
Eight were repeated on four nights - China>Rider, Casey Jones, Truckin, Bertha, Bobby McGee, GDTRFB, and BIODTL.
Seven were repeated on three nights - Morning Dew, Sing Me Back Home, Not Fade Away, Uncle John, Cumberland, and Bird Song.
Ten songs were played twice - Dark Star, Good Loving, Ripple, Second That Emotion, Deal, Johnny B Goode, Hurts Me Too, Next Time, The Rub, Cold Rain.
What's interesting is some of the songs they played just once in five nights - hard to believe there was just one Other One, one Lovelight, one Wharf Rat, etc...
(I did this in a hurry, so there may be some inaccuracies...)

Sugar Magnolia 25,26,27,28,29
Loser 25,26,27,28,29
Playing 25,26,27,28,29
Hard to Handle 25,26,27,28,29
China>Rider 25,26,27,29
Casey Jones 25,26,27,29
BIODTL 25,26,28,29
Truckin' 25,26,28,29
Bertha 25,27,28,29
Bobby McGee 25,27,28,29
Morning Dew 25,28,29
Sing Me Back Home 25,26,27
Not Fade Away 25,26,28
(GDTRFB also done 29th)
Uncle John 25,27,29
Cumberland 27,28,29
M&MU 27,28,29
Bird Song 27,28,29
Next Time 25,27
Cold Rain 25,29
The Rub 25,28
Second That Emotion 25,29
Good Lovin 25,26
Dark Star 26,28
Hurts Me Too 26,29
Deal 27,28
JBGoode 27,29
Ripple 28,29
Friend of the Devil 25
Big Boss Man 26
Wharf Rat 26
Mama Tried 27
Dire Wolf 27
Lovelight 27
King Bee 28
El Paso 28
Other One 28
St Stephen 28
Dark Hollow 29
Minglewood 29
Black Peter 29
Alligator 29
Greatest Story 29
Midnight Hour 29
Bid You Goodnight 29

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Dec 30, 2009 5:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Fillmore Setlists

I didn't mean to imply that the FE shows were repetitive or dull. I found it curious that the new songs weren't at the forefront. I was at both full runs--and the Manhattan Center shows--and frankly loved every minute. The fact that the new songs were new was great--and they are great songs. I enjoyed the relatively rare one offs at the Capitol--especially some of Pig's tunes--Smokestack, etc. I really enjoyed the Manhattan shows due to the energy the band got from the overcrowded room full of heads. The FE shows were magical, each night in its own way. I'm glad they played HtH each night, but I'm also glad that they did keep the set lists fresh. And I will never forget 4-29. That's in my top five shows (I saw perhaps 40 between 1967 and 1972) due in large measure to the Alligator jam and the amazing Cold Rain and Snow coda as well as the Midnight Hour which is my all time favorite (as was that night's H2H).

During this period, the band did back off the deep jamming, but I'd seen many great Stars, Other Ones, Cautions, etc., and was not disappointed by the change in approach. When they did jam, it was still excellent.

Every band morphs as they age, and the GD, still quite young, were aging gracefully. I'm glad they continued to morph with the addition of Keith, who gave Jerry something new to feed off of. By the time of the Academy of Music run in March, they were a new machine, gearing up for Europe. When they came back--whew!

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Poster: William Tell Date: Dec 29, 2009 5:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

Actually Marty Weinberg, who taped all these NY runs, had a few words on the Feb '71 shows:

"Those were pretty good shows, but they were not the same as the shows in November... I remember Jerry coming out the second night and saying, 'I don't think Mickey is going to be here tonight, it's pretty weird.'.... They were a lot less powerful as a band, it was something missing once he wasn't there.... That was a real turning point. Afterwards they were a lot tighter, but less frivolous...less experimental, less willing to go out there, to get out on a limb. They were much more repeatable after that for the shows I saw...they became much more night-for-night predictable."

LiA: this is a critical point for me...I do enjoy post Jan 71 material (rarely going beyond about Dec, 71), and I appreciate those that say "they were better with just Billy" (in a way, obviously, those that pick 72-73 as the peak are acknowledging that Billy alone was good enough, and Keith was more than adequate [putting it in those terms to accent that even if you think it was that Jerry alone peaked, those two points must also be true...right?]).

But, for me, whether it was the shift due to Hart's absence, the addition of Keith, the "non band" issues ($, loss of innocence, shift to new musical explorations, etc), or who knows what, I often think that my focus on the early era is in part driven by what the band did with Hart, TC, and PP, relative to what they did with only Billy and Keith, and it may be as simple as what is outlined above ("predictability" vs "who knows what") even though it's not as simple as that sounds (as we have discussed many times, "my" set lists are really pretty consistent so it's more than that...).

Anyhow, babbling here, but never have been able to confidently ascribe my bias to anything besides the "energy" (and to a lesser extent,"singing/songwriting" prowess of 70 with acoustic shows); these comments suggest another organic basis for my interest.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Dec 30, 2009 7:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3-21-70 review

I agree wholeheartedly with WT. Or maybe with Marty, whom I knew pretty well back then. The retreat from the jams and the cliff leaping was disappointing. But the previous two l.p.s were loaded with great SONGS. And the new stuff from Feb 1971--great as well. Constanten leaves, the band plays on, Mickey leaves, the band plays on.

But in the context of the first half of 1971, the Capitol run had its share of magic and then some. Not the jammy whammy magic--but the great song magic.